Tuesday's first timeout brought a video tribute to Michael Jordan for his Hall of Fame selection the previous day.
The Bulls' 110-103 victory over the Knicks never will be confused with any Hall of Fame material—or possibly even an instructional basketball video.
But at this point, survival counts more than style points.
With their 12th victory in 13 home games, the Bulls moved a half-game ahead of Detroit for the Eastern Conference's seventh seed and dropped their magic number to clinch a playoff berth to two.
That means if they don't clinch sooner, a win over Charlotte at home Saturday brings the Bulls their fourth playoff berth in five seasons.
"For me it would be great, but I'd be happier for the players," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "I've had a chance to play in playoff games. Some of these guys have, but some haven't. That experience is invaluable. The level of play and focus that you need will only benefit us moving forward."
The Bulls, in a refreshing change, fueled the game-changing run with defense. Trailing 90-85, they ripped off a 17-3 spurt that featured two steals from Kirk Hinrich, one from John Salmons, one from Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas' emphatic swat of a Jared Jeffries shot.
Rose scored six and Hinrich added four in the run, Salmons hit a corner three-pointer and Thomas jammed down an alley-oop from Rose that jazzed the crowd of 20,764.
The Knicks didn't go away.
Wilson Chandler hit a three-pointer and Chris Duhon sank a layup with 87 seconds left to make it 102-100.
Brad Miller, who had 12 rebounds but shot 1-for-10, rebounded a Ben Gordon miss and made two free throws with 67 seconds left.
After the teams traded misses, Chandler hit another three with 22.1 seconds left. Gordon made two free throws with 21.4 seconds remaining. Thomas then blocked Quentin Richardson's three-pointer and got fouled, icing the game with two free throws with 14.3 seconds left.
"It was nice to see us be aggressive defensively," Del Negro said.
The Bulls had 12 steals and scored 28 points off 19 turnovers, seven of which they forced in the fourth.
Hinrich scored 25 points with three steals in 34 minutes. Thomas added 18 points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
The Bulls again played short-handed because Tim Thomas left the state to attend to personal matters and could miss more than Tuesday's game.
Chandler's 26 points led the Knicks, while Al Harrington scored 18 of his 23 in the third quarter, after which the Knicks had an 84-81 lead.
"We're going to have to play much better defensively," Hinrich said. "We weren't great [Tuesday night]. We have to start building a playoff mentality."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun